'Troublemakers' beware of the big bully

31st January 2003 at 00:00
I object to the use of Ricky Gervais to illustrate the article on nightmare headteachers. David Brent was an incompetent, embarrassingly awful, sad little man.

But he was not a bully. He did not belittle, ridicule, or terrorise his staff. His staff were not afraid of him. He wanted to have a pleasant workplace. He realised his best asset was his staff.

This is quite the opposite of the strange breed of all-powerful, highly feared, despotic bullying heads who have the same motives, and use the same tactics as their playground counterparts.

They have a sidekick to back them up unquestioningly. They also target one person at a time whom they perceive as being "weak": this "weakness" might be a teacher admitting a problem with a disruptive child, a probationer asking how to deal with a behaviour problem or a teacher asking for support for an SEN child.

Such heads hate any "troublemaker" who dares to voice a different opinion to theirs, they will use threats, sarcasm, ridicule and aggressive body language, they will deny having said or done things, they rely on getting away with it because people are afraid to speak out, their behaviour is completely unpredictable so that nobody knows how they will react to any given incident and they lull people into a false sense of security by being "normal" for periods of time only to pounce when everyone least expects it.

I suggest that the underlying reason for such behaviour is incompetence, and headteachers them-selves realise this. They have a scant knowledge of the curriculum and poor people skills - which makes any professional dialogue too threatening for them.

I suggest that a photograph of Mugabe, Hitler or Napoleon would be more appropriate to illustrate any further articles on this unacceptable feature of Scottish education.

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